ATMs are widespread in Italy. Major credit cards are widely accepted, but some smaller shops, trattorias and hotels might not take them.
- ATMs (known as 'Bancomat' in Italy) are widely available throughout Italy, and most will accept cards tied into the Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro systems.
- Beware of transaction fees. Every time you withdraw cash, you'll be hit by charges – typically your home bank will charge a foreign-exchange fee (usually around 1%) as well as a transaction fee of around 1% to 3%. Fees can sometimes be reduced by withdrawing cash from banks affiliated with your home banking institution; check with your bank.
- If an ATM rejects your card, try another one before assuming the problem is with your card.
- If your card is lost, stolen or swallowed by an ATM, you can telephone toll-free to have an immediate stop put on its use:
- Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Cirrus and Eurocheques are widely accepted. Amex is also recognised, although it’s less common than Visa or MasterCard.
- Virtually all midrange and top-end hotels accept credit cards, as do most restaurants and large shops. Some cheaper pensioni, trattorias and pizzerias only accept cash.
- Do not rely on credit cards at museums or galleries.
- Note that using your credit card in ATMs can be costly. On every transaction there’s a fee, which can reach US$10 with some credit-card issuers, as well as interest per withdrawal. Check with your issuer before leaving home.
- Always inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid your card being blocked for payments made in unusual locations.
Italy’s currency is the euro. The seven euro notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. The eight euro coins are in denominations of €2 and €1, then 50, 20, 10, five, and two cents, and finally one cent.
- You can change money in banks, at post offices or in a cambio (exchange office). Post offices and banks tend to offer the best rates; exchange offices keep longer hours, but watch for high commissions and inferior rates.
- Take your passport or photo ID when exchanging money.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Italians are not big tippers. Use the following as a rough guide:
Taxis Optional, but most people round up to the nearest euro.
Hotels Tip porters about €5 at high-end hotels.
Restaurants Service (servizio) is generally included in restaurants – if it's not, a euro or two is fine in pizzerias, 10% in restaurants.
Bars Optional, though many Italians leave small change on the bar when ordering coffee (usually €0.10 per coffee). If drinks are brought to your table, a small tip is generally appreciated.